The Art and Science of Creating Great Content
So far, we introduced the first four steps of our 8-step program to creating great content. We’ve addressed the need to:
- Audit and evaluate your content
- Track competitors’ content
- Develop an effective content plan
- Schedule your content development and distribution
In this post, we explore the CONTENT creation process used by our team at GK3 Capital to support our clients.
Step 5: Create
When you work with GK3 capital as a partner in your sales and marketing distribution, you have access to our talented writers and designers who apply decades of financial services experience to create impactful, results-oriented content. In fact, creating unique, highly relevant content for our clients is one of our hallmarks. When it comes to content, everything starts with the customer.
Content Is Not About You.
Content is about the reader, not the writer. Anyone encountering your content first asks, “what’s in it for me?” If your content answers their most pressing questions, solves their problems, fills a need, or provides insight to help them understand the world and guide their next steps, they will engage with your content.
Who Is the Hero?
Similarly, who is the hero of your content’s story? Not you. “The customer is always the hero. You, the content creator, are the guide,” according to author Nancy Duarte. “Your wisdom, knowledge, and experience support your future customer on their hero’s quest. If your guidance is on point or resonates, they may become your customer. (If you deliver on the promise of your content, they’ll consider you to be a hero, too—and tell their friends).”
What makes content great in financial services?
Before we begin creating content, we must understand what makes financial content truly effective in the digital age. Content must capture the divided attention of the online user to succeed in the “Attention Economy.”
Most content is viewed on a computer screen, often a mobile device. Thus, your content should be skimmable. Studies estimate that viewers on average read only 20% of the words on a web page. A reader or viewer should be able to quickly absorb your main points as they surf the web or navigate across and between screens. (Note the extensive use of headlines, subheads, numbered lists, and graphics to help you skim this piece.)
Clarity is paramount. Use clear, concise language. Avoid jargon. Favor active verbs. Limit the passive voice. Use short sentences that are easy to understand. Dense, wordy, technical discussions appeal to few.
Your content must help the reader understand new concepts or solutions, and help them comprehend and navigate a complex world. By providing insights, you highlight your unique value and perspective. “Aha” moments keep your audience engaged and wanting more.
Humans are visually oriented. We take in most information through our eyes. Our content therefore should be visual and, in turn, more skimmable. To start, you should have a clear visual identity to set you apart. Then, a variety of visual tools and devices can enhance your content:
- a. Subheads, call-outs, and pull quotes serve as guideposts to the meaning of the text.
- b. Charts and illustrations support key points and help guide the reader to a faster and deeper understanding.
- c. Infographics can help communicate complex quantitative information in a visually powerful fashion.
Stories (not stats)
Humans respond best to stories, not numbers. Evolution and brain chemistry has hardwired our species to respond to narratives. Narratives help us understand the world around us and chart our path to the future. Stories create empathy and move us to action. Neurobiologists have even identified the powerful brain chemistry behind this dynamic. However, creating stories can be challenging for the investment community. We love numbers. We must convert data into stories for maximum impact.
Four Primary Content Types
Content comes in many forms, from white papers, commentary, and blogs, to videos, podcasts, and social media posts. Despite the variety, content can be divided into 4 basic categories:
1. Premium Content
Premium content is long-form. With premium content, you can share your value-added and specialized wisdom in depth.
Premium content may take the form of white papers, e-books, or a video series, for example. Many of your website visitors will be eager to provide their contact information in exchange for your great premium content. These “conversions” will provide you with new leads and drive your business growth.
2. Foundation Content
Foundation content is the basic building block of your content program. Blogs, articles, and short videos are the most common type of foundation content.
Publishing foundation content regularly sustains engagement with your audience. Foundation content should answer the most common client questions. Content can be evergreen or newsworthy, timeless or timely.
3. Micro Content
Micro content is short-form. Social media posts are the most common form of micro-content.
You can use micro-content to drive traffic to your website or a premium content offer, or as part of your ongoing outreach. Micro-content is often repurposed or “atomized” from premium and foundation content, leveraging your content creation efforts.
4. Repurposed Content
You can get the most mileage from your content through repurposing. You can divide your long-form premium content into multiple pieces of foundation content such as blogs.
You can then distribute short highlights from your blogs on social media, such as LinkedIn or Twitter. These social posts can then direct readers back to your premium content offer or foundation content, setting up a virtuous cycle of repeated engagement.
Building Your Audience
There are many ways to increase the audience for your content, from email campaigns to advertising, to name just two. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) drives organic user traffic by optimizing your text and content for search engine queries. To optimize SEO, strategically include keywords in your headlines and text and embed “alt tags” in your visuals. Create engaging meta descriptions for each page of your website to attract visitors from search results. If SEO is appropriate for your business, SEO should be incorporated into the content development process.
The ultimate goal of content is to inspire action. In your case, it’s about inspiring your prospective investor to take the next step in their journey to becoming your investor, if that’s the right path for them.
Thus, content should conclude with a Call-to-Action (CTA):
- Downloading a white paper
- Watching a video
- Setting an appointment with your sales team
Your CTAs should match the current phase of the client’s journey and not jump ahead. Don’t ask for a meeting prematurely when the reader just wants to see a fact sheet. Over-eager outreach can be off-putting.
To Sell or Not to Sell
When creating content, “to sell or not to sell—that is the question,” to borrow Shakespeare. You must distinguish between thought leadership and product-oriented content.
Thought leadership earns the trust and loyalty of your audience by providing your best insights. As noted by New York Times bestselling author, professor, and speaker Adam Grant: “Good communicators make themselves look smart; great communicators make their audiences feel smart.”
In the investment world, we all navigate the financial markets toward an uncertain tomorrow. Your audience welcomes the help and expertise you share. Effective thought leadership sells by not selling.
They Ask, You Answer
What content should you develop next? Start with the questions your clients and prospective clients may be asking. Your client-facing teams are a great resource to discover the most urgent and frequent questions from investors. “They ask, you answer” is a powerful guiding philosophy for content generation (and the title of the leading reference book on the topic).
The 5 Ps
Product-oriented content differs from thought leadership content. Product-oriented content must clearly answer every question a prospective investor may have in order to make an informed investment decision. Your content must provide the details on each of the “5 P’s” of due diligence for your product:
The GK3 Content Creation Process
Creating content consistently requires a systematic process and effective collaboration. At GK3 Capital, our content process combines the efforts of writers, designers, developers, account managers, and clients. We use technology-based systems to track and guide each step of the process.
Financial content requires industry expertise. Our writers and designers have decades of experience in financial services, as well as being distinguished practitioners of their craft (whether the format is analog or digital).
Our team also has extensive experience with compliance. Incorporating compliance from the start speeds up the publishing process and keeps your content within legal and regulatory boundaries.
In addition, our account managers and production people have years of experience efficiently moving content through the publishing process.
Disciplined, Step-by-Step Approach
At GK3 Capital, we utilize a disciplined, systematic, and repeatable approach to content creation. We segment content development into its fundamental steps to assure timely and impactful content:
- Identify the audience
- List the most common questions from your audience
- Clarify key messages
- Select the most effective content type to guide the audience through the buyer’s journey
- Brainstorm content ideas with the client
- Select the most timely ideas
- Draft the outline for the selected topic
- Suggest potential visuals
- Circulate initial outline for client and team feedback
- Begin draft based on approved outline
- Develop visuals
- Complete the first draft
- Submit to client for feedback
- Incorporate client feedback
- Refine text and visuals
- Circulate completed content for client and compliance review
- Incorporate client and compliance comments
As you can see, there are many factors to consider in the content creation process. By following the best practices we have discussed, you help ensure that your content will always resonate and be impactful with your target audience. Creating great content is both art and science, requiring a constant blend of creativity and disciplined process.
Our next blog post addresses a topic that goes hand-in-hand with content, Compliance.
Topics: Inbound Marketing Digital Marketing Financial Services Marketing Content is King Digital Wholesaling Growth Driven Design Financial Services Inbound vs. Outbound Sales Enablement Business Development
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